The beaches of Ecuador are some of the best kept secrets in the Latin Tropics. These oceanside destinations are rapidly gaining the attention of expats looking for a life filled with sun, sand, and water as well as foreign investors who are recognizing the potential for strong returns on investment in these communities.
Sprinkled along Ecuador’s Emerald Coast, each of these locations has a unique character that ranges from vibrant party and surfing towns to more sedate, higher end resort communities. The five locations listed below can truly be said to be the gems of Esmeralda.
What Makes Ecuador Beaches Special?
What makes the top beaches of Ecuador special is the fact that they aren’t as well known as other beach communities in the Latin Tropics. In a real sense, expats have the opportunity to explore and discover new and exciting locations that they may not have been previously aware of.
What follows, in no particular order, is a list of the best of these seaside destinations.
Perhaps the best known beach town in Ecuador, Salinas offers the high-rise modern lifestyle that many expats enjoy. The combination of modern amenities, combined with a wide variety of outdoor activities, and great weather, have made Salinas the “go-to” spot for foreigners and expats alike.
Whale watching, surfing, parasailing, and even skydiving as well as a vibrant nightlife are just some of the many activities that Salinas offers. For those seeking more tranquil alternatives, the nearby thermal baths and spas are a powerful draw.
For those looking for something a little less crowded, nearby Libertad is a commercial hub that is working to build up its beachfront as well as the pier areas to make it more attractive. For those looking for single family homes, the quiet community of Ballenita has some outstanding bargains for ownership and/or investment.
Montañita has long had the reputation for being the most lively beach town in Ecuador. Native Ecuadorians travel here to enjoy the surf and the party atmosphere – particularly during high season (January to April).
The nearby community of Olón has a growing expat population and is far more serene than its more boisterous neighbor. With stunning beach vistas all its own, living in Olón offers the best of both worlds–a quiet home close to a bustling and energetic entertainment center.
Canoa/Bahía de Caráquez
Two of the most up and coming beach towns in Ecuador are Canoa and Bahia de Caráquez. Canoa is a small village favored by surfers and backpackers but rapidly expanding into a more dynamic tourist and expat destination.
Bahia, just a short distance away, has grown into a mecca for expats looking for high-rise living. Being located on a peninsula between the Rio Chrone and the Pacific Ocean, Bahia has also become a favorite port-of-call for world-class yachtsmen (and women) from around the globe.
This dynamic combination promises to increase property values and development. The modern infrastructure makes it especially attractive to retirees and investors desiring tropical charm with the promise of a good return on initial outlay of investment funds.
Crucita has been favorably compared to Jaco, Costa Rica. Like Jaco, Crucita first gained attention as a destination for adrenaline junkies – in this case paragliding and hang gliding, while Jaco focused on surfing.
This has lead to a growing expat community and a continually improving and developing infrastructure. Crucita’s location, close to both Manta and Portoviejo, makes it an ideal spot to access the benefits of major urban centers while still be removed from the more frantic pace of those cities.
While Crucita continues to grow, it still retains much of its small, fishing village vibe. This quality is what is luring many retirees and expats who want a quieter pace but still within easy distance of larger expat communities.
At the opposite end of the scale from high-energy locations like Montañita and Salinas, is the quiet fishing village of Mompiche. It is the most rustic place on the list and is a perfect destination for those looking to disconnect from the 24/7/365 world and just enjoy the tranquility of living by the ocean.
Owning a Part of the Top Hidden Beaches of Ecuador
The allure of these Ecuadorian destinations has increased the interest level of those seeking a tropical destination close to the ocean. The real estate market, while still feeling effects of the 2008 recession, has a number of real jewels that can be had for a surprising affordable price.
A prime example of what you can find in these ocean side communities is this new 2 bedroom, 2 bath house overlooking the ocean for $85,000. Located in Ballenita, it could be the perfect seaside retreat or investment property in a growing area.
Some Beach, Somewhere
As can be seen from the above list, the top beaches of Ecuador provide a range of opportunities from rustic to high-end modern. Exploring them for yourself is the best way to find the sun and sand location that is right for you.
Do you ever feel like your dream of living on a tropical coast is just another one that’s far beyond your reach? Maybe you long for a permanent vacation from the never-ending hamster wheel, but you’re afraid you just can’t afford to make those dreams a reality.
If that’s the case, then you can’t afford not to look at Ecuador’s seven best budget beaches.
You can scale down (or up) for less.
Despite its reputation as a budget destination, Ecuador also has plenty of popular upscale beaches. Atacames and Salinas are two. If you’re looking for Miami on a budget, then look at real estate here. You’ll be surprised how much you get for your money.
You can salsa your night away with well-heeled partiers at the yacht club. Or dine in a luxurious high-rise with five-star accommodations. You’ll love the crowded umbrella-lined beaches, glamorous vibe, and South American prices.
But if you’re looking to scale down, then one of Ecuador’s seven best budget beaches can easily accommodate your lifestyle. Ecuador has one of the lowest costs of living in Latin America, and its real estate market offers many of the same bargains you’ll find across the board in this destination that’s long been a favorite among North American expats.
Another great selling point is that much of Ecuador is experiencing rapid growth in its expat communities. So much so, that in many cases, the available services and consumer offerings can’t keep up.
So if the lower price tag still isn’t enough to help you realize your goal of starting a new life in Ecuador, there’s always the opportunity to parlay the opportunity to move abroad into twice the adventure by starting an expat business.
Here are 7 of the best budget beaches in Ecuador where you can enjoy paradise without breaking the bank.
You can live in Ecuador on a budget. It’s not just a dream.
1. Olon has many treasures for you. Settle in for an up-tempo, yet tranquil lifestyle. Tropical jungle flows to the sea. Hike trails and swim in waterfalls. Watch hummingbirds, iguanas, and even wild horses.
Surf conditions are excellent. Olon’s wide, long and sandy beaches host a myriad of restaurants and kiosks. One drawback (or potential opportunity, depending on how you look at it) is that convenience shopping doesn’t exist here. Residents of Olon travel far for shopping, groceries, and services.
This gap in consumer offerings equates to the perfect place for entrepreneuring expats to open an apparel shop or maybe a convenience store for food items and sundries.
2. Canoa has a quaint, laid-back character. It’s small, but solitude is never hard to find. The long, wide beach stretches for miles.
Canoa is becoming more and more popular with foreign travelers, but it’s still mostly a small fishing village. As a result, accommodations are still limited here. So now could be the perfect time to open a guest house or lodge.
3. Ayampe is the place to go for complete serenity and tranquility. It’s essentially a wildlife sanctuary – a divine spot for yoga and meditation. From your rainforest or seaside perch, you’ll love the picturesque Los Ahorcados Islands views.
Picture a large, inviting family home made of cane and wood in a jungle setting. Or a rustic cabin with a straw roof. Ayampe is the ideal spot for building your holistic retreat. Your health-conscious customers won’t be able to resist organic fruit jams, natural soaps, and fruit-infused herbal teas.
4. Montanita (Guayas Province) means action-packed days and nights. Get ready to live it up in this multicultural party town. Picture “Little Amsterdam.”
When you’ve relaxed and people watched enough, go surf. With some of the region’s best conditions, Montanita even plays host to international surfing competitions.
If residents and visitors want to sleep soundly, they’ll most likely have to get out of town. As a result, the even more affordable areas around Montanita might be a great place for an adventure-based resort away from the noisy beach crowd.
5. Mompiche (Esmeraldas Province) Beach thrives on ecotourism. Backpackers and surfers trek to this black sand beach for one of the best surf breaks in Ecuador. But that’s not the only attraction.
Mompiche’s proximity to Mache Chindul National Reserve opens a whole new world of adventures. Whale watching is a favorite pastime. Canoe or kayak the mangroves and Rio Verde River for bird and monkey watching. Head to the jungle for a hike or horseback ride.
Like most other budget destinations, Mompiche still lacks an abundance of variety in its accommodations and services, including restaurants. As a result it’s a great up-and-coming spot where expats could get a steal on their dream property or savvy investors could find the perfect niche for launching a successful business.
6. Salango (Manabi Province) is for history, culture, art enthusiasts and conservationists. You can stay busy attending artisan workshops or spending time at the Pre-Columbian Archaeological Museum. If that’s not enough to keep you busy, Machalilla National Park outings will.
There’s always scuba diving, whale watching and endless snorkeling. You’ll adore the shallow natural aquarium and sea excursions. But your experience won’t be complete until you hit the trails on foot, horseback, or bicycle.
An outdoor outfitter store could be your calling. Everyone in Salango is hooked on nature. Stock quality hiking and biking gear, camping accessories, cameras, and binoculars.
7. Sua (Esmeraldas Province) Sua is a super tranquil setting surrounded by hills and cliffs. If you like calm water sports and little wind, Sua is the location for you.
You’ll have fun sunbathing, swimming, rowing, stand up paddle boarding, and walks around the beachfront promenade. Aside from that, there’s not much else to do.
You can always take a quick boat ride to Bird Island or the Cave of Love. Or jaunt on over to party down in nearby Atacames.
Restaurants are limited in Sua. So are activities. As a result, properties are incredibly affordable. It’s a great place for expats seeking a simple, relaxed lifestyle.
You Can Live Your Dream in Ecuador
Now you know Ecuador offers many beach communities where you can afford to simplify your life. But you can’t just dream about it. You have to dive in. Pick a spot (or two) that sparked your interest. Explore the real estate opportunities there. Your dream home (and your escape route) will suddenly become clearer. And if you still need to earn a living, there are plenty of niches ready to be filled.
If the boho vibe and nonstop partying in Montanita leave you searching for a little tranquility, then look no further than Olon, Ecuador.
This serene oasis off the central coast of Ecuador is just a few kilometers down the road from Montanita, and a two and a half hour drive from the metropolis of Guayaquil.
Olon affords travelers and expats alike the chance to bask in Ecuador’s natural beauty while experiencing the easy pace of the beachcomber’s lifestyle; many even choose to call Ecuador home and invest in Ecuador Real Estate.
Olon, Ecuador is located off the Santa Elena peninsula, which sits right in the center of Ecuador’s coastline. It is the westernmost land area in the country and contains some of the most famous surfable beaches in South America. People don’t just travel to Olon and Santa Elena to surf however, as you’ll see when you read on.
What to Expect on Arrival
If it’s your first time to Olon, Ecuador, don’t expect to find an overdeveloped resort community like you’d encounter off the coast of say, Florida or southern California. While those types of areas offer their own perks, they can’t beat Olon Beach in terms of undisturbed natural beauty. Once a well-kept secret enjoyed by Guayaquil professionals and Latin American retirees, Olon today is home to many expats from the world over.
The small town sports a coastline of charming and refreshingly simple bungalows and hostels for locals and travelers alike. There are a handful of restaurants, a malecon (more on that later) and a stunning nature preserve to the north, and that’s about it.
There Is Lots to Do in Olon, Ecuador
Despite the town’s sleepy appearance, there are actually plenty of activities available to pass the time in Olon Beach. Many people enjoy surfing the waves, hiking to nearby waterfalls, or just taking a dip in the cool waters. Lifeguards are on duty during summers and events to help keep you safe in the water.
If sports are not really your thing, don’t fret; Olon also offers plenty more relaxing fare. Many residents enjoy animal watching near the water, where exotic birds and reptiles can often be seen in their natural habitat.
If you’ve only ever seen these beautiful creatures in zoos or in pictures, then there is no comparison. You can also enjoy whale watching from the shore, where migrating humpback whales have been known to approach. Some even report spotting wild horses galloping across the sand! What a treat!
The malecon, or boardwalk, sits on the beach and features a recently refurbished red brick esplanade for leisurely walks on the beach, among other activities. There are several restaurants and other attractions lining the malecon, including public restrooms.
Amateur and professional photography buffs alike will appreciate Olon, Ecuador’s soothing vistas, pristine beaches, and unforgettable sunsets. You might even be able to snap a pic of the majestic humpback whales we discussed earlier!
You’ll Be in Good Company
Are you thinking right about now that Olon Beach sounds like a retiree’s dream? You wouldn’t be alone. The international community in Olon includes many investors, businessmen, and retired citizens who saw the potential to get more bang for their buck in Olon Beach.
While property near the beach can cost more than other comparable coastal areas in the country, it is still an affordable option for many. The quality of life is what really counts here, as the restful pace and incomparable surroundings contribute more to Olon residents’ happiness than their “bottom line”.
If It’s Not in Olon, Ecuador, Just Drive Down the Road
There are a few things you should know before checking out or even settling down in Olon, Ecuador. For one, if you’re looking for anything beyond a dinner out or a few souvenirs to send home to your grandkids, you may have to travel a bit outside of Olon Beach to find it.
This means groceries, toiletries, and any other living essentials you might need. Most residents choose to travel up the road to the much more established Montanita to do their weekly shopping.
For many this can be a big lifestyle change, especially if you’re coming from life in the United States where unless you live in farmland, most “convenience” stores are at most a few minutes’ drive away. Expect to travel a bit up the road for other modern necessities as well, such as managing finances or shopping for new clothes.
Another aspect of life in Olon, Ecuador to consider is whether you want to go through the hassle of driving a vehicle around town.
Olon is a prized destination in Ecuador; the beauty and serenity of the area that initially brought you to the coast will invariably draw crowds during the high season as well.
Because Olon, Ecuador is such a small community, parking becomes scarce during these times. What’s more, it is not uncommon to see those large travel “coaches” loading and unloading right next to the beach on a regular basis. These oversized buses can halt traffic close to the water, so avoid them at all costs if you’re in a car.
There are plenty of other ways to get around Olon, as most of the town’s attractions are very close to one another. In most cases you can easily get around with a bicycle or motorized scooter.
Of course, it never hurts to simply walk around and take in the sights while you reach your destination! However, keep in mind that these towns are quite isolated from the rest of Ecuador. You will want to have a decent car (and be prepared to drive it quite a ways) in order to reach a proper city.
Is Olon, Ecuador Right for You?
We hope you’ve enjoyed this overview of the natural beauty and relaxing lifestyle available in Olon, Ecuador. From the wild horses to the pristine waters, the breathtaking waterfalls to the unforgettable sunsets, Olon offers tourists and expats an enriching environment and an enviable lifestyle that’s more accessible than you might think. One thing’s for sure; you won’t find anywhere else quite like it.
Map of Olon, Ecuador